Matthew 26:17-30 Part 3


In His answer (in verse twenty-three) to His disciples, Jesus quotes from Psalm forty-one and says, “this one.”  “The one David foretold; the one the Father chose; this one will deliver Me over (to be crucified).

Jesus quiets the despair in His disciples’ hearts about there being any “chance” involved here.  It seems (to them) to be all falling apart.  But things are not going the way they are, due to some unexpected turn for the worse.  This is His Father’s will, and it has never been any different.  It is written; and therefore it is decreed.  One of you will deliver Me over to the priests and elders… to suffer, and to be crucified, and to be raised the third day.

And His understanding of the near-future event (He says) isn’t based on some “mysterious” ability to foretell the future, to be a seer of whatever “random” occurrences that might happen in time.

In the first place the “abilities” of God the Son aren’t mysterious.  His personage is revealed in the Scriptures.  Although we can’t “know” Him fully (the way He knows Himself), the things we know are true; and He isn’t a mystery.

And, secondly, “time” isn’t a mystery either.  It is a creation of God; and it can be described (for lack of a better way to do it) as a passing of moments.  For example, the year 2020 doesn’t yet exist.  And the mind or person of man isn’t able to invade it.  That year, and all events in it, will come to pass at the decree of God.  The angels (elect or reprobate), with all their great powers, even they can’t see or foretell or invade future time.  How could they, if future time doesn’t exist?  All they have said and done in history they’ve said and done at the command of God.  And what they know, they know because God revealed what He would do… not because they have ability to see “future” events!

So the “future” will not come to pass because it already is; it will come to pass because God causes it to come to pass.  The thoughts and actions of men, and the “circumstances” in which they find themselves, and the plans and devices that they execute, will be done in a passing of moments… in a creation of God called “time”… which will exist because God decrees it.

And Jesus comforts His disciples with all these things.  It is written in Psalm forty-one that a particular man will deliver Jesus to those who will cause Him great humiliation and suffering.  And they will kill Him.  And the Son of Man must go away (i.e. in order to receive His Kingdom).  It’s written; therefore God decreed it.  So you needn’t lose heart and be dispirited.

Even though it looks to you (because of your own expectations and aspirations and imaginations) as if random events and the murderous hearts of men will put an end to your hopes, nothing can be further from the Truth!  Believe Me.  Believe My Father.  It is written.

Now, Peter remembered these words of Jesus not even two months later as he was speaking to the crowds at Pentecost about Jesus being murdered.  And he said to them,


“This One Who was delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken and slain….”


That’s the very concept that Jesus taught him at this last supper.

And, a few days later as the disciples were assembled together in prayer and praise, Psalm two was quoted concerning the nations being assembled together against God’s Anointed Christ.  And they prayed unto God:


 “…for of a Truth, Herod and Pilate and the Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together against Thy Holy Child Jesus, for to do whatever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done….” 


They prayed those words because it was written!

 So the disciples did indeed learn that which Jesus had taught them on this night in which He was delivered by Judas.  They now faithed in what was written… and not in their own hopes and imaginations.

Now back in verse twenty-five, even though Jesus had once again demonstrated His omniscience (His ability to know), and had directed their attention to what was written and decreed by God, Judas  still can’t remain silent; if he were to just sit there while all the others were examining their own culpability, that would certainly be an admission of guilt!  All the disciples, one by one, had asked Jesus, “Surely it isn’t I, is it Lord?”

And although Matthew doesn’t write it, this man must be filled up with all the effects of covered-up guilt!  He has already gone to the priests and made a deal and been paid for it!  And the One Who had demonstrated many times His ability to read the hearts and thoughts of men had gone to the Scriptures and read that a particular man would deliver Him to the priests!

And a very tense moment now occurs when Jesus makes that accusation public; and all the rest have expressed their grief and fear and anxiety about it.  And everything Judas is going through right then is a private, internal executioner!  He knows that Jesus knows.  And Jesus knows that he knows!

And his rage and his murderous intent is now mixed with torment over imminent exposure.  His conscience condemns him, but he would not… could not… admit to such a thing.  Conceal.  Conceal.  Hide.  Deny.  And in doing so he reveals his hidden wickedness… his impudence!  And he multiplies his sin (which is common in sinful man, isn’t it?  We sin; and then we lie about it.  And we lie about the lie… and so on, and on.  Sin.  Deny the sin.  Deny the sin and the lie.).  And the sin heaps up and expands; and the evidence of the hidden wickedness piles up and condemns and condemns!

And Judas couldn’t even say “Lord,” as the others said.  He said, “Surely not I, is it Rabbi?”  This is the less intimate term of respect and honor.  The pharisees had used it (hypocritically) when addressing Jesus before the crowds, and that’s exactly how Judas addresses Him here.  But there’s really no respect… just severe, excruciating embarrassment and guilt!  And greater and greater condemnation.

And Jesus, having not answered the others, now answers Judas:  “Zu Eipas.”  “You said.”  It is both confirmation and condemnation.  A colloquialism.  It’s a matter of fact.  The words of your own mouth.  It is you who said it.  The words you spoke are true.

Matthew, nor Mark, nor Luke record anything about Judas’ reaction.  Neither do we know anything about what the others said… if anything.  And since that’s the case we won’t speculate about it here.

In fact, the text of John indicates that none of them understood what was going on!  But the apostle John indicates, in chapter thirteen, verse thirty, that Judas then left the room and went out into the night to do the deed… knowing the place where Jesus liked to go in order to pray and to be alone.  He had eaten the Passover with Jesus, but he was absent for the Lord’s Supper – the New covenant.

But Matthew’s text now goes directly to the institution of the New Covenant sign and seal (verse twenty-six).  And what I would like to do first is to read the three synoptic accounts (Matthew, Mark and Luke).  Although substantively the same, there is some variance; so we’ll clear that up.  And then we’ll deal with Matthew’s text.

As you look at your text (verse twenty-six), let’s read Matthew first; and then Mark and Luke.


“But during their feasting, having taken bread Jesus blessed and broke it, and having given to His disciples said, ‘Take.  Eat.  This is My body.’  And having taken the cup and given thanks, He gave to them saying, ‘All of you drink of it, for this is My blood of the covenant which, concerning many, is being poured out in remission of sins.’”


Now, Mark, although there are a few little differences, isn’t substantially different.  Here’s what he said in chapter fourteen beginning at verse twenty-two:


“And while they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when He had blessed, He broke it and gave it to them saying, ‘Take.  Eat.  This is My body.’  And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them and they all drank of it.  And He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the New Covenant which is shed for you.’”


And thirdly, the Luke passage has a substantive difference; but it’s not difficult at all.  Listen to it (at chapter twenty-two, verse seventeen) and then we’ll look at it:


“And He took the cup and gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves.  For I tell you that I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God shall come.’  And He took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it and gave it to them saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’  In like manner also the cup, after He had eaten saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.’”


Now, as you probably heard, Luke begins his account of the supper with Jesus giving the cup to them first (having given thanks for it), and told them to divide it among themselves.  And each one of them probably poured some of it into his own cup.  And then Jesus took the bread and gave thanks for it, which they all ate; and then they drank the wine.

Now rather than this being a historical or theological issue, it seems to me that this is simply one of “distribution”… getting the wine passed out and divided so that when they ate the bread they could also drink the wine.

There was also a custom in Israel that the head of the house would taste the wine before it was given to everybody else.  And maybe Jesus followed that custom and tasted it and distributed it just in order to facilitate the institution of the New Covenant meal.

But Matthew and Mark, finding the custom of little value, seeing the “distribution details” as inconsequential, simply omit it all in favor of the essentials only.

In addition, Luke expands Jesus’ words in the sacrament a little bit.  In fact, each of the three Gospel writers has a point or two that the others don’t have.  And that’s why, in our celebration of the sacrament, we use Paul’s teaching to the Corinthian Church rather than one of the Gospels.  He puts them all together.  And it’s a teaching portion of inspired Scripture in which an existing Church is being instructed by the apostle about how to conduct the sacrament.  So, we too are to be properly instructed and use Paul’s teaching.

But we also find that Paul, too, omits the prior distribution of the wine – leaving that up to the Churches to decide, in their own circumstances, how to get the wine to everybody.  I use to think that it might be nice to have everyone come to the table to participate.  Now I don’t think that’s a very good idea, because there’s too much movement in getting up and coming to the front; and there’s the chairs, and the hymnbooks, and the Bibles, and the bulletins and the children; and it could be disorderly, and shut down the concentration that we need on the body and blood of our Lord.

The only change that we’ve made in the way we celebrate, is the purchase of some larger cups (pewter or silver chalices) in which enough wine can be poured for the whole family while everybody remains seated.  These little clear, plastic cups just don’t seem to “fit in” very well with what we’re reading here about that first sacramental meal.  Although the “details” of distribution aren’t essential, it’s important, in my mind, that we do it the best way.

But let me just follow up for a moment on Luke’s point of distributing the wine first:  those who criticize the Gospel texts – saying that they’re different, and that therefore something is wrong with them – those people are full of self-delusion!  Luke was writing especially for Gentile Christians; and he needed to explain the Jewish customs.  New Gentile Christians would invariably be around new Jewish Christians since they would constitute the vast majority of the Church for a number of years!  And since Luke included it, the Gentiles wouldn’t think it a perversion of the sacrament when a Jewish pastor or elder in the Church wanted to taste the wine first and then pass it out for everybody to divide.

Now let’s go on a bit.  From the text it’s easy to see that the Passover and the new sacramental meal weren’t mixed.  Jesus makes it clear, in a number of different ways, that the one was completed and the new was instituted.  An end was put to the former, less excellent banquet.

After the Passover meal was completed, a new sheet of unleavened bread was broken and given to them; a new cup of wine was poured and given for them to divide….  And most of all the entire new ceremony was set apart by Jesus’ prayers of thanksgiving for the bread and wine as they signified His body and blood.

But as you can see from the text, His prayers are not recorded.  And I’m sure that that’s by design!  Because our thanksgiving is to be prayer – and not just a vain repetition of Jesus’ words.  If the apostles had recorded His prayers, then pastors everywhere, and for all time, would be mindlessly repeating what Jesus prayed!  There’s already the mindless, heartless, vain repetition of prayers (and other things) in sacrament-centered, liturgical Churches.  And none of the apostles wished for the Churches to be doing that.

But rather for us to set apart the New Covenant sacrament with true prayer to God our Father, in joy and thanksgiving for the bread and the wine.  The true prayer of thanksgiving, in faith, sets the New Covenant supper apart from every other institution of custom!  It is new!  And the Older Testament ceremonial Law is now replaced by a new and more excellent institution!

Moses (and Israel) had been given (by God, at Sinai) an entire, infinitely detailed system of sacrifices; and memorials; and days and months and years; and covenantal meals.  And all of that is hereby “filled up” in Christ.  And the New Covenant supper is the new sacrament that signifies that fact.  And it “seals” that it is true!

The ceremonial and sacrificial Law hasn’t been abolished, or abrogated; but all of that which the Law taught and foreshadowed was fulfilled!  As the point of our text, it was all about to be kept perfectly!

And once it had reached its “fullness’ in Christ, the “keeping” of it by men was no longer necessary.  Our Lord (timelessly) kept the entire ceremonial Law perfectly for us… therefore it became “obsolete” and “anachronistic” for us!

The Law of the sacrifices didn’t become evil, or vain; nor was it abolished… it had reached it’s ultimate in the crucifixion of Christ.  Therefore the Law itself is good, and holy, and perfect.

But for men to continue to observe it once it had culminated in its “fullness” would be vain idolatry!  The ceremonial Law is being kept perfectly for us by the Person of Christ; for He is our Passover.  And man shall not continue to obey the Law of the sacrifices; because to foreshadow that which as already occurred in perfection is to proclaim the Law as being unfulfilled.  In other words, it is to proclaim the Son of God not yet come; and not yet crucified; and unsacrificed.  And that leaves all men yet in their sin, and subject to the judgment of God.

Still there are others (i.e. Romanism) who re-sacrifice him every Lord’s Day, as if once wasn’t enough.  But it was enough.  “It was shed for many for the remission of sin.”  Through faith all our sin is remitted.  And it is sufficient for all of The Father’s elect people.

And through faith we really do participate in all the benefits of the body of Christ, and we become one in Him.  All of that is signified by the bread.  And through faith we really do share in His shed blood.  That’s signified by the wine.  And all of this is “sealed” to us in the sacrament.

As we close this morning (to continue this passage next Lord’s Day), you come to the Table faithing in the humiliation, suffering and crucifixion of Jesus Christ our Lord… and in His resurrection from death.  He is gone away as it was prophesied; in the meantime we remember Him until He come.

As we participate, as we did last Sunday, we are “in communion” with Him as brothers in the new humanity that’s been covenantally provided for us in the Second Adam.

We depart our old heritage in the first Adam and are received into the family of the Second!  And it’s totally by grace – “lest any man should boast!”

So what you’ve received as a gift, and for that which you receive as a gift you are obliged to acknowledge, give thanks, and be content.  Purity of thought – purity of life.